Oregon's beaches need your help

Don Harker is a consultant and serves as a mentor to students at Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Don Harker is a consultant and assistant professor in the MFA Collaborative Design program at Pacific Northwest College of Art. 

The tragic 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan had and continues to have a wide impact.

The west coast of North America from California to Alaska has begun receiving an estimated 1.5 million pounds of tsunami debris, which will wash ashore for the next five years. This is added to the 100 million tons swirling in the North Pacific Gyre and casting off waste to many highly vulnerable Northwest coastal communities.

The debris poses a series of business-related problems including:

  • Financial — The cost of beach cleanups and the impact on the local tourist economy.
  • Policy — Regulatory oversight for plastic handling, tsunami preparedness and land use.
  • Ecological issues — Including impacts on wildlife and the potential for invasive species.


For more information on tsunami debris go to: www.solv.org, www.seaturtlesforever.org and www.marinedebris.noaa.gov.

SOLVE and the Collaborative Design program of the Pacific Northwest College of Art have teamed up to create the Clean Beaches Design Challenge related to cleaning tsunami and other debris from Oregon beaches. The Clean Beaches Design Challenge is a competition for college student teams and collaborators interested in tackling a complex problem with scientific, political and social dimensions.

The competition is designed to promote the practical, integrative and exciting aspects of science, technology, engineering, art, policy, education, organization, politics, psychology and community when applied to a real world environmental problem. Research, creativity, innovation, collaboration and systems thinking are integral ingredients and key to the successful design for complex problem interventions.

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